3D printing could be the future of dentistry. Cutting-edge research in 3D printing is being applied to dentistry by researchers from The University of Groningen. The team is pioneering printing teeth from antimicrobial plastic that destroys tooth decaying bacteria.
Their bacteria fighting teeth are achieved by embedding antimicrobial quaternary ammonium salts into existing dental resin polymers. Having the teeth fight bacteria is an important feature that's hoped will address the millions of dollars spent ever year on damage bacteria causes to dental implants.
“The material can kill bacteria on contact, but on the other hand it’s not harmful to human cells,” Dr Andreas Hermann of the University of Groningen told New Scientist.
To test the teeth’s resistance, the team coated the printed teeth in bacteria known to cause tooth decay for six days. During this period new material killed an impressive 99 per cent of the bacteria.
While a lot more research is needs to determine how the 3D-printed teeth will behave in an oral environments and when exposed to the wear and tear of everyday life (exposure to tooth pastes, chewing, saliva and food), it will be an interesting space to watch.
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